India is vivid, exciting, and overwhelming, with kaleidoscopic beauty in all directions. The very air is electric, multidimensional. You can taste it. An afternoon walking through the crowded old fabric market Johari Bazaar in Jaipur can feel delirious.
Women in magenta, pink, indigo, or orange saris float past, dazzling the eye. Temple bells jangle, ravens and crows squawk, pilgrims chant, car horns honk, roaming dogs bark, and jasmine and roses and street food scent the air. Everything is on the move. I feel alive there, an enhanced version of myself.
Villa Palladio Jaipur
Restaurateur/hotelier Barbara Miolini, a Swiss-Italian resident of Jaipur in northern India, made a worldwide splash in 2013 when she founded ultra-ornamented Bar Palladio Jaipur in the verdant grounds of Narain Niwas Palace hotel. The turquoise-and-white decor, custom-made tented lounging daybeds in the garden, and pattern-on-pattern hand-painted murals were the talk of the international design world. Bar Palladio was designed by Dutch expat and Jaipur resident Marie-Anne Oudejans, a former fashion and jewelry designer.
Now, enterprising Miolini and Oudejans are once again creating buzz, with their new Villa Palladio Jaipur, a chic and colorful private hotel that celebrates Indian traditional style with pizzazz. A vision in scarlet, with every surface vibrant and embellished, the Villa is a hallucinogenic riposte to minimalism.
Villa Palladio is set in the verdant countryside to the east of Jaipur. It has nine dynamic guest accommodations, expansive black-and-white checkered marble terraces for sunbathing, a low-key restaurant, pool, spa, library, and meditation/yoga pavilion, within tall ramparts enclosing peaceful palm-shaded gardens. At night, with candles flickering on the hypnotic decor, it’s the new hot spot for the gilded youth of the region.
“My inspiration was the art and the culture of Rajasthan and Jaipur, which has been a center of craftsmanship, jewels, art, architecture, and embellishment for centuries,” says Oudejans.
Discovering a former hunting lodge set among pink and white oleanders, Miolini and Oudejans have created an entirely original environment. They worked with leading artists such as Rajasthani painter Vikas Soni and talents of the Pink City for the pillow embroideries, metalwork tables, elaborate scarlet painting on walls, baroque brass sconces, striped awnings, and exquisite prints on fabrics. Oudejans also unleashed the most accomplished woodcarvers, master upholsterers, tailors, and specialist stone carvers for maximal effect.
And so, the hotel itself, freely translating and celebrating Indian artistry, has become a tribute to Rajasthani heritage, its love of beauty, and its history. It’s a heady romance, and for lovers of everything Indian, the new Villa Palladio Jaipur is a fever dream — entrancement and fulfillment in crimson and white.
Rooms from $350. Villa Palladio Jaipur, villa-palladio-jaipur.com/en.